Sep 14, 2022 - News

R. Kelly verdict close in Chicago

Drawing of a courtroom
In this courtroom sketch, the front of the courtroom is blocked off as a sexually graphic video clip is played for the jury during R. Kelly's trial in August. Drawing: Cheryl Cook/AP

Jury deliberations have begun in the monthlong child pornography trial of R&B singer R. Kelly.

Why it matters: If you've been mostly ignoring Kelly's latest trial, you may need a refresher on what the coming verdict will mean.

  • Let's catch up fast:

Context: The disgraced Chicago celebrity is serving a 30-year sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking in New York.

  • He is now on his second local trial for essentially the same crime.
  • In 2008, Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges after a video surfaced, allegedly showing him engaging in sexual acts with a minor.

Yes, but: Federal prosecutors are now accusing Kelly and his co-defendants of fixing that trial by coercing and coaching witnesses, including the girl allegedly featured in the tape.

  • In this trial, Kelly is charged with 13 counts of child pornography, enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The prosecution: Using the pseudonym "Jane," a female witness testified that she was the girl in the video.

  • She was allegedly 14 years old at the time.
  • They also argue that Kelly and his co-defendants paid to find the tape and destroy the evidence.
  • Other women have also testified they had sex with Kelly when they were minors.

The defense: They argued the witnesses were "untrustworthy" and didn't prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • They also argued that Kelly is not in the tape and that the co-defendants were attempting to retrieve a different sex tape of Kelly with his former wife.

The intrigue: The defense team for Kelly's co-defendant subpoenaed journalist Jim DeRogatis to testify. He claimed constitutional protections to fight it and succeeded.

  • The defense presumably wanted to find out where DeRogatis originally got the tape in the early 2000s, which led to the groundbreaking reporting that started the first Kelly indictment.
  • DeRogatis was called to stand in the first trial but didn't answer questions.
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